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Cubas potential in carrying out projects to develop therapeutic vaccines against a variety of diseases are currently on display at the 2006 Havana International Biotechnology Congress which was underway at the close of this edition.

Health Minister José Ramón Balaguer and Concepción Campa, director of the Finlay Institute - both members of the Political Bureau of the Party - presided over the opening of the event, which brings together almost 600 participants from 40 countries.

Dr. Luis Herrera, president of the organizing committee, said that 38 Cuban biotechnological products had been patented and were on sale in more than 45 countries.

Herrera, who is also director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), announced that research carried out by Cuban scientists includes anti-tumor peptide, which is continuing following tests using animals, and a series of clinical trials are expected to begin soon.

Herrera explained that the institution has initiated clinical trials of streptokinase applied rectally in order to prevent rectal infarctions, as well as news on how they are progressing on joint research with China on Hepatitis C.

With the aim of elevating the quality of life of patients with cancer, Cuban experts are working on obtaining therapeutic vaccines for cervical-uterine and prostate tumors.

Herrera praised the political willingness of the state in the development of biotechnology which, despite the blockade by the United States, had exhibited notable achievements throughout the world.

These include obtaining a pentavalent vaccine, the second of its kind in the world, to protect children against five preventable diseases and which is being used in the Third World.

The CIGB director presented a diploma to Robert Huber (Germany), winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988, conferring on him the title of Honorary President of Havana Biotechnology 2006. He gave a master conference on proteins and their structures from basic research to their application in medicine and in the protection of plant species.

Also present at the opening were Ricardo Cabrisas, government minister; Fidel Castro Díaz- Balart, scientific advisor to the Council of State, and José Miyar Barruecos, secretary of the Council of State.

Source: Granma Internacional

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